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65th Tour de Pologne - ProT

Poland, September 14-20, 2008

Polish platform for season finale

By Gregor Brown

Germany's Linus Gerdemann looks to be the man to beat for the 65th Tour de Pologne
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Since the start of the ProTour in 2005, the Tour de Pologne has taken a step forward on the international racing stage. Teams send top rosters to compete in the challenging Polish stage race, now in its 65th year, to build for end of season objectives and to gain points for the ProTour rankings.

This year, the likely ProTour winner, Alejandro Valverde is racing the coinciding Vuelta a España. Though 2008 will not see the ProTour leaders scrabbling for points, it will present a gruelling test over seven days – September 14 to 20 – with teams competing for the yellow overall jersey.

Defending champion Johan Van Summeren of Team Silence-Lotto will be back to defend his title. The Belgian, 27, took the title in a nail-biting finish on the final stage to Karpacz, where he bettered young gun Robert Gesink and Kim Kirchen. Kirchen and Gesink have other engagements and will not line up this year. (where are they?)

There will be plenty of riders to challenge Van Summeren's defence. Olympic Champion Samuel Sánchez will lead Euskaltel-Euskadi as he builds for the World Championship. CSC-Saxo Bank will bring its Tour de France power-duo Fränk and Andy Schleck, while Team Columbia will field Marcus Burghardt, winner of Tour stage 18, and Linus Gerdemann, who is red-hot off his recent win at the Deutschland Tour. The sole USA representative, will be Astana's Chris Horner. He is making his return to Europe after injuries that harmed his season.

The race begins with a four-kilometre team time trial. A run to Olsztyn, in northern Poland, follows the opening stage. The parcours then takes the riders from Mikolajki, in the northeast, south. The three stages run along the Belarus and Ukraine border as the race heads to Slovakia. The sixth stage will be the queen stage, at 201.7 kilometres and six category one climbs from Krynica Gorska to Zakopane. The seventh and final stage from Rabki to Krakow will allow one last chance for a change in general classification.